An ADU for U


APMA takes first place in a design competition for AARP and the City of Omaha, in partnership with Assistology.


AARP’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Design Competition aims to provide examples of age-friendly accessory dwellings to inspire and guide the creation of ADU’s for older adults.

The growing population of older adults across the US is putting a squeeze on the supply of housing for older adults. Unfortunately, many of these older residents are aging in homes that were not designed for them to live in safely or independently. ADU’s provide an opportunity to age in place in walkable, urban neighborhoods with family and loved ones close at hand.





The goal of a universally designed ADU is to plan for the lifespan and the unknown circumstances that can alter how you interact with the physical environment. Designing in this way makes the home environment as flexible and adaptable as possible so that it can accommodate every resident, every guest and every situation. This requires a thoughtful and intentional approach to choose elements that are both aesthetic and functional.

Site Considerations

1. Accessible path to public sidewalks to allow independence from the main dwelling.

2. Raised planter beds for independent hobbies at an accessible reach, and rain barrels to supply those planter beds.


3. Massing allows for multiple orientations and flexibility with site placement to create different levels of privacy and independence.

4. A detached ADU may be located a minimum of five feet from the interior side and eight feet from the rear lot line, if set back 60 feet or more from the front lot line. (Omaha Municipal Code: Sec. 55-763.G.3.D)


Access to nature has been proven to positively impact mental and physical health, especially of older adults. The outdoor space off the bedroom provides space for relaxation, as well as patio gardening with pots or raised garden beds.


The large, shed roof with deep overhangs allows for ample space for solar panels that may power the majority of the ADU. Rain barrels located around the planter beds help conserve water and energy.

Floor Plan


Built-in cabinet storage and wardrobe style closets help reduce the amount of furniture to be moved or purchased.

Deep drawers and pull out shelving help increase accessibility and reduce risk of injury due to reaching or bending.

Custom casework with bench and/or swing out table are examples of flexible furniture as a lifestyle element needed.

The designed drop zone provides an accessible place to sit to put on or remove shoes as well as easy access to jackets.



  1. Cabinetry plays a large part in the ADU design to create a variety of storage options for people of different sizes and abilities. The idea behind using IKEA as a baseline allows a large range of customization, budgets, styles, and flexibility.
  2. A concrete floor allows easy clean-up and durability. Radiant heating can easily be added during construction to help individuals with poor circulation. Concrete patios with a heavy brushed finish help with traction.
  3. High contrast flooring and carpets help create zones for people with low visibility.
  4. Use of colors like greens and blues, and ample use of natural light, help reduce eye strain for individuals with low visibility. Also, greens and blues also help contrast against skin tones for those who communicate with ASL.

Click here to learn more about our partner, Assistology


1516 Cuming Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102
p 402.341.1544
f  402.341.4735

Red Oak
302 East Coolbaugh Street
Red Oak, Iowa 51566
p 712.623.6888

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